Monthly Archives: March 2014

Going out on a Friday night

I went out to a house party on Friday. It was lovely to get out of the house, it was a great party, it was . . . nothing. I didn’t feel anything about it at all. I was just numb.

I don’t really enjoy going out any more. I don’t actually not enjoy it. I just don’t feel anything.

I think this might be another bad sign. Not enjoying things has never been a good thing in the past – it’s part of the creeping depression making its way in.

I don’t know whether I should keep trying to go out and enjoy myself, or whether I should stay in bed with a chocolate peanut butter mug cake like I want to most of the time. Going anywhere takes spoonfuls of energy that I just don’t have – I’ve been in bed for the majority of the weekend after going out.

Going out in the day time takes less effort, and is less draining, but that’s not really an option for most people that I might like to see, and it’s definitely not a time when gatherings of people I like tend to occur.  And really, it still takes energy that I don’t have, it just doesn’t deprive me of the sleep I need to function.

The way I feel at the moment, if I never left the house except when I really wanted to I would be happy. No appointments, no social occasions, no visits, maybe the occasional lunch out or coffee, maybe then I might feel better. Enjoy myself more.

Who am I kidding? I’ll feel empty and nothingness until my brain chemistry says otherwise. I’ll be tired and unable to function well until further notice.

Weary

I haven’t blogged much recently. To be honest, I’m discouraged. I have a readership of about ten, with spikes of anywhere up to seventy if I write a good, relevant piece. I don’t have anything good to write about at the moment, and I haven’t been looking too hard. I’m tired.

Depression is sneaking back, and the awful thinking that comes with it. ‘Why should you write? No-one cares. No-one reads your drivel. Just give up.’ I don’t want to give up. I managed to keep writing all through the deepest depression I’ve ever experienced last year. I will do my best to continue now, and hope that the depression doesn’t take me as low as last time. I have a degree to complete. I can’t be unable to do any more than get into a onesie and lie on the couch every day. It just doesn’t fit in with my plans.

I hope that this black patch is just that, a patch. Seeing the shrink next week, and maybe some things will change again. Meanwhile, every second day (except when there’s material making it worth writing more often) I will do my best to write. 

Men failing in a woman’s world

A man by the name of Phil Gifford offered his opinion to a reporter today regarding the sufferings of men in a female-dominated world. Feminists up and down the country were divided between anger and hysterical laughter.

He does have some legitimate points. Men don’t go to the doctor when they’re concerned about something the way women do, and as a result often have poor health outcomes. That’s something that should be addressed as best we can. Boys are struggling with formal education, and need to be supported in order for them to achieve their full potential. however, he’s pretty much off the deep end for much of his ramblings.

There’s one particular quote that struck me.

“Masculists are the reply to feminists. Come on darlings, we want fairness, balance and common sense.”

“Come on darlings”? See, that, right there, is a full dipper of what feminists are trying so hard to fight. Talking down to women and using their gender as a derogatory term is part of the male-dominated female-denigrating culture that this man subscribes to. His language frames his world – a world in which he can protest all he likes, but women are not seen as equal. Where women get talked down to, all the time. Where women are expected to take gendered insult from men like him.

There are things that boys and men need more support with. Feminists do not want to deny others the help they need (or at least in my idealist world), but feminism not going to be hijacked by people screaming ‘what about the men??’. Men that need help should be assisted by the men that are in power – that’s the way it’s always been. Women have other battles to fight.

Keep your gendered insults to yourself, Mr Gifford. Stop wallowing in the depths of privileged woe. You still hold the balance of power, and we’re still trying to gain equality in the majority of fields. Three or four examples of places where men don’t dominate does not equal female oppression. Talk to me when the majority of politicians, CEOs, doctors, and every other prestigious group is dominated by women and they’re not hiring men, and we’ll chat about inequality.

Disappointments

Today I had a friend pull out of a lunch date. To be honest, it’s not that unexpected. We only manage maybe half of the dates we set. What was unexpected is how I reacted.

Usually, It’s just a bit of an annoyance. I go grab some soup from the freezer and move on. But today it had me in tears. I was looking forward to lunch, to doing something nice for me, which hasn’t been very common lately. The closest I get to doing something for me is going to bed ridiculously early, to escape evenings that are just too much for me. I end up doing a lot for other people, a bit of hermit-ing, and nothing much that makes me feel good. So I was looking forward to it.

Now I’m a mess. Changing plans on me is getting less and less tolerable. My brain just can’t deal with it, and it kicks me over into meltdown mode. I had a friend moving down into my area, and I’d offered her some things, and had to organise some stuff for her. She decided that she wasn’t going to take the job down here, and didn’t bother to tell me until I asked her how packing was going. Meltdown. I can’t handle that change, and I really can’t handle being left out of the loop when I was putting a whole lot of effort into making it work.

My eldest daughter has decided she doesn’t want to go to after school care any more. She and her sister go because my partner and I both work from home, and it’s difficult to do that with the kids around, especially my younger, who is a lot of work. But the elder is ten now, and it should work ok, so I’m giving her a week-long trial. We’ll see how that goes. Her ballet has also had its time changed, which changes what I have to do on a Thursday afternoon.

Lots of changes this week. None of them particularly negative. But it’s all too much for this brain. I’m coping less and and less with these things. Meltdowns are becoming easier to trigger. I’m trying to offer less and less to people, so that I can’t get burned by them any more. It means being more of a hermit, and it’s what I want, because dealing with people is making me sick.

This is all just personal waffle, but I need to get it out. I’m not doing well any more, I don’t know if I’m going to stay stable or whether this is a new spiral down. I’m fragile, and scared of that fragility. Maybe it’s time for a new round of medication roulette and/or another go at some variety of talk therapy. I’ve got no faith in the latter, to be honest, after so many failed attempts. It’s the meds that have brought me up to coping-level each time, and then things are good. I can do ok, and then the few calming techniques I know work well. Then the meds stop working (or something. I don’t know what happens really) and things just go to hell. Maybe in the end I’ll take every drug under the sun in my daily cocktail, but I’ll be well.

A pay rise

Barely-noticed this week is a wee news article that should be exciting for beneficiaries. They’re getting a pay rise!

I hear the mutterings – bloody bludgers don’t deserve that, they should be happy with what they get. Don’t be too hard on them though, they’re only getting another 1.38%. Superannuation continues to grow in line with the average New Zealand wage, and superannuitants will continue to receive 66% of an average wage.

What about that 1.38%? How much of a change is that going to make? Well, as a single over-25, your income will rise by $2.85 to $209.06 per week. Which, I believe, constitutes not enough to live on.

When are we going to treat beneficiaries as real people, people who have the right to have enough money to live on? Spare me the crap about career beneficiaries. They’re a right-wing boogey-man and I don’t really want to hear it. Should we really be depriving thousands of people of any kind of quality of life just because some people, somewhere, might choose ‘beneficiary’ as a career? If you believe that, what kind of inhumane person are you? Dehumanising an entire segment of the population because you’re suspicious of some of them is cruel.

Somehow, though, there will be people who resent the idea that beneficiaries and getting a few more dollars. And beneficiaries would be tempted to say ‘take your 1.38% and shove it’, except, well, they really need the extra two bucks.

School funding reform or; Why I started making plans for Hekia Parata’s downfall

I spend a lot of time venting my anger at Paula Bennett, our charming and beloved Social Development minister. What I neglect to do is tell you all about our wonderful and exciting Education minister. I will endeavour to correct this oversight.

My daughter is a little bit special. She’s got some developmental delays, affecting her learning. She’s able to learn in a normal classroom environment, with a bit of extra help in various forms. But she’s falling off the bottom of the educational standards chart for her age, and it is likely that she always will. That’s ok, though, because she’s steadily progressing on her own little trajectory. She’s happy, healthy, and doing well. The school is happy with her progress, I’m happy with it, and all should be well, right?

Well, maybe. Parata unofficially announced that if National win another term, it is very likely that the way the government funds schools may change. Instead of the current system, which gives more money to schools in poorer areas to try and balance out the inequality between rich-kid schools and poor-kid schools. I’m pretty ok with the way it’s currently done, but then, I’m not a school teacher or principal. It may be that it’s fatally flawed but I don’t know about it. Anyway, instead of the decile system that we currently use, there may be a move to performance-based funding.

The performance-based model, already shown to be a disaster in the US, does exactly the reverse of its intentions. Kids that are struggling need more resources, not less. High-achievers need extra support as well, but giving them that at the expense of their underachieving counterparts is not the way to go.

Rich kids do better in school. They have more opportunities, and they also have some basic advantages. Things like having enough to eat, having a warm dry home so they don’t get sick, having the clothes to keep the weather out. It’s not that poorer kids are less intelligent, but they simply don’t have many of the things that are almost necessary for success. Like food. And clothes. They’re kind of a big deal. It’s hard to learn when you’re cold and hungry.

Aside: I feel somewhat ashamed that I support KidsCan, a New Zealand charity. Why? Because it is shameful that there has to be a charity providing Kiwi kids with food, clothes, and shoes. We’re a first world country. What the hell is wrong with us?!

Anyway. Rich schools will do better. Poor schools will do worse. The schools that need the support most will lose it. And my little girl becomes a liability to her school.

Why’s that? Because when you test her against her peers, she does poorly, and she’s not improving in leaps and bounds. She’s just coming on slowly. It pulls the entire school’s averages down. They’ve been amazing, helping her so much, and pouring so many extra resources into her. What happens when she becomes an expensive liability? I know her school would continue to support her. What about ones that can’t afford to?

Hekia Parata has floated around on my ‘politicians that need putting on the naughty step’ radar for a while, but this strikes too close to home. She may not turn my baby into a liability instead of a person.

The joys of dealing with WINZ

A heart-wrenching story came out today of one woman’s latest clash with the denizens of the WINZ office. A sufferer of a condition that causes her much pain, coupled with anxiety, makes going into the WINZ office very difficult. It’s not good for her to need to attend the office too often, as her medical forms state clearly.

WINZ showed their usual remarkable competence by losing her paperwork at a critical time – only a week or two before they were going to cut her benefit for not putting in enough paperwork. The usual rigmarole that they put their clients through on a regular basis (pro tip: if it’s common knowledge that you often lose paperwork, perhaps it’s time to look at your systems). She was subjected to the stress and cost of redoing all of her paperwork, a task that’s not ideal for a very unwell person.

Finally, she had the joy of meeting a WINZ functionary who appeared to know nothing about what might be going on and recommended contacting her case manager – an activity that she had been engaged in trying for the best part of a week.

This is unacceptable.

WINZ is dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in the country. Those in poverty, those taking care of kids on their own, those who are too ill to work. Their job is to make sure these people are not having to turn to crime or begging to survive, or quietly starving. I know they really don’t want anyone getting a benefit, but that’s not realistic. Making it difficult to get a benefit, especially one that is as sorely needed as a sickness benefit, is despicable.

WINZ should have better document logging and handling. Losing stuff is so unprofessional that they should hang their heads in shame. Maybe if it happened once or twice, it would be understandable. Once or twice per person? That’s ridiculous. That’s a critical failure in processes.

WINZ need to critically assess what their staff are doing. They simply do not treat people like people. There are some lovely case managers, but the culture of those offices is one of humiliation and degradation. Their goal is not to support people into a job, it’s to shame them into taking whatever is available, no matter how unsuitable it is. Or to shame them just for being people who are down on their luck. Sir Bob Jones would be proud.

Classifying sick people as ‘Jobseekers’ is ridiculous. Many have jobs that they cannot do because they are too ill. They’re not being lazy. They’re sick, damn it! They don’t need to be lumped with those who are genuinely looking for work (or not, depending on the person). There’s a reason that sick people (and sole parents, but there’s a rant for another day) were in a separate category from the unemployed. Their needs are different. And they don’t need the pressure of being told to get ‘work ready’ while they’re doing their best to recover.

WINZ is incompetent, inefficient, and humiliating to their ‘clients’. Those in poverty deserve respect, just like their wealthy countrymen. They’re people, and should be treated as such. They also deserve to be treated professionally, with all the efficiency and competency that involves.

What we have now is unacceptable.